Supercar sales blitz planned as recovery tempts big guns
Expect to see a lot more exotic supercars - some costing up to €500,000 - on our roads from next year as budgets and borders expand.
The company responsible for Ferraris, Maseratis, Bentleys, Aston Martins, etc for all Ireland, has told Independent Motors the buoyant economy here is prompting them to target a substantial 30pc increase in sales over the next 18 months.
Some of these cars cost €450,000 - €500,000 after tax and exchange rate but that hasn't deterred the well off from buying, or planning to buy one. Already four new Ferraris 488s have been pre-ordered.
While most buyers are wealthy business people, current owners of BMW 5-series and Audi A6 models are also going to be key targets now.
Richard Gould is head of Charles Hurst, Belfast, specialist car division. Last Friday he and I sat down at Carton House, as potential buyers sampled €5m worth of exotica on a specially chosen route.
I'd just had the pleasure of driving some: such as the Aston Martin Rapide S (pictured), the Bentley Flying Spur (5,998cc, W12, 4.3second sprint to 100kmh) and the Maserati Ghibli diesel, among others, ranging from €95,000 or so for the latter to €350,000 for the Bentley (and it was by no means the most expensive).
I'd driven some of them up north previously but not the Rapide S, - probably one of the most underrated cars of its kind. Great fun.
Richard told me how the company has decided to really go after the potential of our rising market. "The southern market is key. It is part of our growth market for next year. We will be raising the profile of the company and the manufacturers."
Watch out for big presences at the likes of the Ireland v Italy rugby next spring and the Dublin Horse Show in the autumn to heighten awareness.
Being based in Belfast means potential buyers don't have a 'go-to' place in the south. "But we are down every week servicing cars for customers. And if a potential buyer contacts us we will quickly get down to them." Or they can visit the showrooms.
The Hurst group is no stranger down here. Before the recession, southern buyers accounted for 20pc of their business. Now with order books and bank balances expanding again, a new drive is under way with German marques especially targeted. "We are working so people see these cars as an option other than the German models," Richard says. A case in point is the Maserati Ghibli (€95,000), with its 3-litre V6 diesel (280bhp), which they reckon is a rival for high-spec versions of the A6 and 5-series.
The Quattroporte is a potential competitor too, for larger luxury motors such as the Mercedes S-Class, Audi A8, BMW 7-series.
But there is no doubt the exchange rate and VRT add enormously to the cost of these cars in euros. All the paper work is taken care of by the company but the level of tax is frightening.
For example, the Flying Spur has an on-the-road price of £183,000 up north. But it will cost you nearer €350,000 by the time exchange and VRT are factored in.
Despite that, levels of interest and demand are rising. Which means we're going to see -- and hear - lots more from some of the great names in motoring.